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New Projections on Future Global Sea Level Rise

July 19, 2013; 10:28 AM

Sea level rise will likely continue for centuries as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Global sea levels are predicted to rise by more than two meters (6.5 feet) for every degree of warming in the future, according to new research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

The international research team used comprehensive computer simulations along with data from sediments at the bottom of the ocean and ancient raised shorelines across the world.

According to the report, meltwater from the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets will be the dominant contributors to sea level rise over the next two millennia.

Global sea level rose on average 0.2 meters (7.8 inches) in the 20th century, according to the study.

Key excerpts from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research press release.....

"CO2, once emitted by burning fossil fuels, stays an awful long time in the atmosphere," says Anders Levermann, lead author of the study and research domain co-chair at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "Consequently, the warming it causes also persists." The oceans and ice sheets are slow in responding, simply because of their enormous mass, which is why observed sea-level rise is now measured in millimeters per year. "The problem is: once heated out of balance, they simply don't stop," says Levermann. "We're confident that our estimate is robust because of the combination of physics and data that we use."

"Continuous sea-level rise is something we cannot avoid unless global temperatures go down again," concludes Levermann. "Thus we can be absolutely certain that we need to adapt. Sea-level rise might be slow on time scales on which we elect governments, but it is inevitable and therefore highly relevant for almost everything we build along our coastlines, for many generations to come."

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This study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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